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Godfried Schalcken, A Man Offering Gold and Coins to a Girl

Key facts
Full title A Candlelight Scene: A Man offering a Gold Chain and Coins to a Girl seated on a Bed
Artist Godfried Schalcken
Artist dates 1643 - 1706
Date made about 1665-70
Medium and support Oil on copper
Dimensions 15.5 × 18.9 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Wynn Ellis Bequest, 1876
Inventory number NG999
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
A Man Offering Gold and Coins to a Girl
Godfried Schalcken

A man offers gold coins and jewellery to woman lying on a bed – a carving of Cupid, the god of erotic love, on the bedpost in the foreground removes any doubt that it is an amorous encounter. The glass of wine would also have been associated with licentious behaviour. Whether this is a transaction taking place in a brothel or a gift from an enamoured lover is not explicit, but the coins strongly imply that it’s a commercial exchange.

Schalcken often painted candlelit scenes and here the warm glow casts the woman in a flattering light and emphasises the softness of the pillow behind her. But it also highlights some hard, worldly realities: the gold glittering in the man’s hand, the pearls of the woman’s necklace – an expensive piece of jewellery – and the costly gold braid on her dress.

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